There are almost 3.7 million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK, and 90 per cent of those have type 2 diabetes, which is largely preventable.
In fact, according to Diabetes UK, around 60 per cent of cases of the disease can be delayed or stopped entirely by making these three lifestyle changes.
For the best chance of staving off diabetes, improving diet and fitness levels is crucial. These needs to be long-term changes, so set small, achievable goals to begin with, to ensure you’re not disheartened.
A healthy balanced diet can prevent the onset of diabetes, confirms Diabetes UK. Make sure you understand food labels, including the amount of fat and sugar in a product, so you can make informed, healthier choices.
Traffic light labels on packaged food are a good place to start. “Go for green, occasionally amber, and red only as a treat,” says Diabetes UK, adding that portion sizes should also be within recommended limits.
“A manufacturer’s definition of a portion or serving size may be different from yours.”
The main message from Diabetes UK is to make exercise part of every day. Make small, manageable changes to your day-to-day life that get you off the couch or out of your car.
Be sure to choose an activity you enjoy, because then you’re much more likely to stick to it. There is little point in dragging yourself to the gym if you hate it, because you’ll drop out before good habits are formed.
“Your risk of developing diabetes is serious and you can’t reduce your risk by eating better or moving more for just a couple of weeks,” Diabetes UK says.
Stay motivated by enlisting friends to work out with, or a support group to encourage you and track your progress.
Remember, if you enjoy something, you’re more likely to stick to it.
If you are overweight, losing the extra pounds can help with the fight against diabetes.
Your waist measurement is of particular concern, as fat stored around the stomach can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, and if you already have the disease, excess stomach fat makes it harder to manage.
“Carrying weight around your middle can make it harder for your body to control the levels of sugar in the blood, even if you have a healthy BMI,” says Diabetes UK.
According to Harley Street Dental Studio’s founder Dr Mark Hughes, brushing your teeth more often can lower your risk of diabetes.
Flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) can also play a role, thanks to their ability to improve insulin sensitivity.